Historic Jail Sentence Sends Strong Message to Ontario Employers | The Ontario Federation of Labour

Historic Jail Sentence Sends Strong Message to Ontario Employers

January 11, 2016

OFL: Historic Jail Sentence Sends Strong Message to Ontario Employers

(TORONTO, ON) ─ The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Chris Buckley called today’s jail sentence for Metron Construction Project Manager Vadim Kazenelson a historic decision that will send a strong message to every employer in the province. Ontario Court Judge, the Honourable Ian MacDonnell, sentenced Kazenelson to three and a half years in jail for each of four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count causing bodily harm, following the tragic collapse of a swing stage at a Toronto high-rise on December 24, 2009. The sentences will be served concurrently.

“I hope this verdict sends shivers down the spine of employers across Ontario. The message from this Ontario court echoes the campaign of the Ontario Federation of Labour: if you kill a worker, you will go to jail,” said Buckley. “No prison term or financial penalty can bring back the workers who died or undo the pain felt by their families, but this sentence has the power to prevent other workers from suffering a similar fate.”

The OFL launched its “Kill a Worker, Go to Jail” campaign immediately following the Metron tragedy in 2009 to demand jail time for bosses whose criminal negligence results in a worker’s death. The campaign paid off in 2012 when Metron Construction received Ontario’s first criminal conviction since the Criminal Code of Canada was amended in response to the 1992 Westray Mine Disaster. While the company was fined over a million dollars, the company’s sole owner and director, Joel Swartz, escaped criminal conviction altogether. In June 2015, an Ontario Superior Court found the Metron Project Manager, Vadim Kazenelson, guilty of five counts of criminal negligence. At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge MacDonnell made clear that his decision to apply a significant term of imprisonment was meant to denounce the Metron manager’s failure to prevent “manifestly dangerous conditions” and carry a strong message of general deterrence to other employers in the province.

“This jail sentence is a historic verdict and marks the first time an Ontario employer will face criminal consequences for negligence causing the death of a worker,” said Buckley. “It means that employers can’t chalk up a worker’s life as the cost of doing business. The OFL won’t stop campaigning until the employers who put workers lives at risk to earn another buck find themselves doing hard time in jail.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.


For further information:

Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director: 416-707-0349 (cell) or jduff@ofl-org.flywheelsites.com *ENG/FRENCH*